The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and provides technical advice on the government’s space strategy, supporting the UK space sector to deliver the government’s vision. Space is a part of everyday life. Satellites underpin our national economy, from agriculture and banking to aviation and shipping, and support our national security. Space science provides critical data to understand and address global challenges such as climate change, while missions to explore our solar system unite nations and advance humanity’s horizons.
Building a clear understanding of how climate change impacts the Earth is crucial to guiding decisions and investments that support the government’s net zero priorities, and most of the data we need can only be measured from space. Our National Space Strategy outlines Earth observation missions that will bring us unprecedented insight into the natural world, such as the Biomass mission, which will effectively weigh the carbon contained in forests so we can better understand the role they play in the carbon cycle and how we can protect them. We are also proud to be a world leader in supporting innovative missions to clean up dangerous space debris, so that space can be used safely and sustainably by everyone.
We support a thriving space sector in the UK, which generates an annual income of £16.5 billion and employs 47,000 people across the country. Through our portfolio of programmes and projects, we encourage the development of national space capabilities and are an early-stage investor in space research and development. We also promote the UK space sector’s interests and achievements; make connections to join up industry and academia; and represent the UK in international space programmes. A huge element of these capabilities and research is in climate science as well as the sustainability of the space environment. As such highlighting green careers in the space sector is distinct priority, where there are many opportunities and a great need from the space sector for new talent.
Space is one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy, supporting jobs for some 117,000 people. With the motivation, and the right skills and qualifications, you could join them.
Careers in space cover everything from building spacecraft and designing satellites, to co-ordinating disaster relief and forecasting future climate. You could also help develop new technology, search for life on distant worlds or work with astronauts.
The space industry employs engineers and scientists, accountants, lawyers and communicators. There are jobs in the public and private sectors, in universities, major multinational companies and small enterprises.
UK teams are building some of the world’s largest – and smallest – satellites. They are constructing the first European Mars rover and are working on missions to the Moon, Mercury and Jupiter.
British engineers are developing new satellite communications services. Innovators have built the first colour video from space. Scientists are using satellite technology to monitor life in the oceans and the possibilities of life on distant worlds.
Most careers in space require innovation, creativity, teamwork and problem solving. Many jobs cover multiple disciplines and, as space is an international endeavour, they often involve working with partners around the world.
There are plenty of opportunities available for apprentices and graduates.
Studying science, engineering, IT and maths – as well as related subjects, such as geography – will put you in a strong position for a wide range of space careers.
Teams of engineers work together to design and build spacecraft, robots, instruments and satellite sensors. They develop practical skills and need to co-operate to solve problems. As an engineer, you might be working on a new Earth monitoring satellite, propulsion system or even mission to another planet.
Scientists work with satellite technology to learn more about the Earth and understand how it’s changing. Biologists use satellite sensors to investigate the effects of plastic pollution, meteorologists rely on satellites to track the weather, and satellite data helps chemists and physicists predict the effects of climate change.
Is there life on Mars? You could be part of a science team that is trying to find out. From discovering planets that might support life to unravelling the mysteries of Mercury, space scientists, physicists and astronomers are tackling fundamental questions about the nature of the universe.
From co-ordinating the response to a natural disaster to developing computer algorithms to map urban development, there is a wealth of opportunities to help deliver services from space and make a difference to people’s lives.
This is one of the biggest growth areas in the UK space sector and businesses are looking for people with a wide range of skills. These might include qualifications in software design and IT, geography or marketing.
Hear from the team who worked on the Mars Perseverance project in this great short film from the UK Space Agency.
Future astronauts and space specialists can listen to these short audio programmes on Fun Kids, the UK’s radio station for children. They explain how nearly every subject is useful in a space career.
Girls aged 11 to 19 can take the My Skills, My Life quiz to see how their skills match up to STEM careers. It’s part of a collection of resources created by Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) for getting girls interested in science and technology careers.
These cover a wide range of roles in the space sector and can be viewed on the website of the UK branch of the European Space Education Resources Office (ESERO-UK), which also offers a variety of other space careers resources.
Get general advice on finding work experience in the space sector on the Space Careers UK website, created by the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.